Boo Boys: Chainat FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port return to action on Sunday after a brief hiatus for the Royal ascension, with a growing sense amongst Thai football that the next coronation the kingdom witnesses could take place in Klongtoei. As much as that opening line got in due to lack of a superior alternative, there comes a point where we must admit that, until proven otherwise, this team is in a title race. In case anyone had forgotten over the break, “WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE”. The win against Suphanburi was gutsy and undertaken by a starting eleven stripped by injury and suspension of key players. The last few weeks have produced some excellent football, and we are finally back to full strength (or thereabouts). Meanwhile preseason title favourites, Buriram and Bangkok United haven’t reach the levels expected as both have been inconsistent. If we compare their performance this season with their results in the same fixtures last season1, we find that Bangkok United are 2 points worse off and Buriram are 4 points down on last season. Both our rivals have scored less and conceded more, too. Supporting the view that last season’s top two appear to have gone backwards (but seemingly so have Port according to the numbers, also being 2 points worse off but let’s just ignore that as it doesn’t fit with my intended angle), a decline big enough to stop one or both surpassing Port come the end of season, I’m yet to be convinced. However, with the season now past the quarter point, all we can do is keep collecting points and make ourselves as difficult to catch us as possible.  So, what better opposition to face than our old friends Chainat?

The Opposition

 

In theory, Chainat away should be a near ideal trip for all involved with Port. Just far enough out of Bangkok to allow for a few pre-match aperitifs on route, and a sense of having left the city, yet close enough to get back, even on a weeknight, before bedtime. Not to mention that on paper they’re one of the weakest teams in the league. If only it were so simple. The sides have a somewhat interesting past, leading to a mutual loathing and last season Port took just a single point (at home) from the two match-ups. While the away trip to Chainat will be long remembered as a low, with a shapeless, heartless Port performance being greeted at full time by the seldom seen sight of a Thai team being booed by their own (farang) fans.

 

Form

 

In an attempt to out-tragic the Sandpit’s resident Thai football tragic Tom, I’ve watched Chainat 3 times this season: in their opener v Suphanburi, at Prachuap and on Tuesday at Chiang Mai, in a fixture rearranged due to the recent smog issues up north. They’ve looked terrible in all three and yet collected 2 points from those games. A home win against fellow relegation contenders and currently rock bottom Muang Thong United, is hardly a shock but they have also produced two unexpected results. Firstly, following up the victory in the early season 6 pointer with a home win over title contenders Bangkok United and a battling draw in the derby del bastard when Chiang Rai visited. Their home form is fairly strong, collecting 8 points from 5 games, with PTT Rayong the only team to defeat them.

 

Opposition players

 

Having stayed up on the last day of the season at Suphanburi, in some interesting circumstances, thanks mostly to a, shall we say, fortunate injury time penalty. Chainat set about having a close season clear out. They moved on former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle (who now seems to spend his time making you tube videos skimming footballs across swimming pools), Thai league journeyman Bireme Diouf who has gone to Trat to continue being solid if somewhat unremarkable and Bernard Henry is now with Korat and having scored 15 goals for Chainat last season, has 4 and 2 assists for them already.

With foreign spots to fill, Chainat decided to sign from an unlikely source, in relegated from the second tier Angthong. In came Japanese centre back Kazuki Murakami (4), the only foreign player to start at Chiang Mai mid-week and former Port midfielder Gorka Unda. Sadly the Port faithful won’t get to see the Spaniard as he was injured when Chainat visited Prachuap, thus denying me the sole purpose of signing up to write a preview of one of the worst teams in the division, which was to have been blowing a good few hundred words on how Gorka is basically a Thai league Jordan Henderson with a game too subtle for the footballing Luddites amongst us to appreciate. Maybe next season.

 

 

The remaining members of the foreign contingent are Lendro Resida (10) who came though at Ajax, so you’d expect some technical ability, to deal in lazy generalizations, except we’ll probably not get to confirm that, as he’s been injured and not expected to be fully fit come Sunday. The last foreigner is Ricardo Santos (11) a seemingly standard issue Thai league Brazilian striker who has 3 goals this season but hasn’t featured in the last two league matches. Soukaphone (7) is a Laotian winger who fulfils the requirement that every location in the world have a player dubbed the local Messi, he’s mainly been used as a sub, showing flair but is a tad small and has struggled at times. He did however become the first player from Laos to score in the Thai top tier with a goal v Muang Tong that’s worth seeing, if you like seeing bad teams concede good goals. I’m struggling here, there really isn’t a whole lot to pick out from the Chainat squad, youngish central midfielder Chatmongkol (22) looked good in one of the games l watched and got into a team of the week as a result, so the battling midfield can have a mention too. While keeper Teerath (27) was man of the match in the midweek draw at Chiang Mai, which says more about the low standard of that game than his ability, l felt he could have done better for both goals but when the highlight of a game is that they played on with a sprinkler firing water in the air and into one of the six yard boxes, you know it’s a bad game.

 

 

Port

 

The short break has served Port well, for whilst the sense before Suphanburi was that effects of the losses to injury and suspension might prove to be too much, come the weekend for the first time since the opening fixture Jadet could have a full squad to pick from. The only possible doubt is Pakorn (7), upon whom there has been no confirmation of a return to full fitness. Even the rich tea man himself Rattanai (17) was able to make the bench for the midweek FA Cup game. However, I’d expect KlongToei’s own rap god Watchara (1) to keep his place in goal, with back from suspension Nitipong (34) and Kevin (97) starting at full back. In the middle we finally see the return of el capitán Rochela (22; ed – apparently he’s hurt the same knee again and isn’t expected to play), whilst the efforts of Dolah (4) and Totsapol (6) have been commendable, the team simple looks better with Rochela in there to marshal things. The numbers don’t lie either, in the 8 games without the Spaniard we’ve conceded 10 goals, 1.25 per game or one every 72 minutes. Compare that to when the skipper starts, no goals conceded, that’s none per game and an expectation that if standards are maintained we’ll never concede again. Numbers don’t lie as they say. Or to put it another way, I doubt Suphanburi’s first goal or PTT Rayong’s strike would occur with Rochela in the team. So in he comes.In midfield Go (8) also returns from the yellow card naughty step, to partner the resurgent Siwakorn (16), and it’s in our attacking positions we see the biggest selection head ache. Firstly Pakorn (7), if he’s fit, he starts. It’s not really worth debating anymore, it’s a given for Jadet. Bodin (10) has complicated things by grabbing his chance with both hands and putting in player of the season so far performances and should keep his place on the left. Leaving Suarez (5) and Sumanya (11) competing for the central attacking role, I’d expect it to go to Suarez, which shows how far our squad has come. Last season when we brought a nippy wide man on it was the much loved Terens, now it’s Nurul (31). So in Nurul and Sumanya (or whoever they replace) we’ll have two bench warmers who would be marquee players at virtually every other club in the division. Upfront starting Pele (29) didn’t really work as hoped and it seems he is best utilized as an impact sub. So having scored a well taken goal v Suphanburi Boskovic (23) starts up front.  Prediction Chainat are exactly the kind of team we should be putting away easily, so anything less than a victory by a 3 goal margin and anyone at the game can give them a boo from me.

 

1 For the purpose of this I replaced fixtures against PTT Rayong with Bangkok Glass (champions of the second tier and highest placed relegated team), Trat with Police(2nd in second tier and 15th league 1) and Samut Prakan Dons for Pattaya United, as they stole their club.  

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Music (yes, really) at 18:00 on Sunday 12 April, 2019. For those who can’t make it out to Chainat, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

James Clarke

James Clarke

Originally from England, James first came to Thailand in 2010 to escape big cities and spend time on beaches away from crowds. He now divides his time between living in Bangkok and wishing he was living in Bangkok.

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